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Déclaration inaugurale du nouveau Président du Comité des Ambassadeurs ACP, S.E. Mme Sheila Sealy Monteith

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The Ambassador of Jamaica to the European Union, H.E. Mrs Sheila Sealy Monteith takes up the role of Chairperson of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors for the period 1 February - 31 July 2018. Her inaugural statement as Chair, setting out Jamaica's outlook and objectives for the ACP Group under its presidency, was delivered to the Committee of Ambassadors on 15 February, 2018. (Full text below)
 
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Your Excellency Amadou Diop of Senegal, Outgoing Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors;
Your Excellency Ammo Aziza Baroud, of the Republic of the Chad and fellow member of the Troika;
Your Excellency Daniel Abe’e, Dean of the ACP Group of States;
Ambassador Dr. Patrick Gomes, Secretary General of the ACP;
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and Members of your Delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Good afternoon
 
I bring you warm greetings and best wishes for a productive engagement over the coming months, from Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and President of the ACP Council of Ministers.
 
It is an honour to address you as the incoming Chairman, at the start of a new Session of the Committee of Ambassadors. I am pleased that many of you have committed this time to participate and am very encouraged by the high level of representation.
 
I am particularly grateful to the CARIFORUM Group of States for their support of the nomination of Jamaica and to all of you for having accepted same.
 
I use a familiar Jamaican sporting analogy in the field of athletics to indicate that I assume the Chairmanship, having been passed the ‘baton’ by the distinguished Ambassador of Senegal, His Excellency Amadou Diop. During his ‘leg of the race’, and with the benefit of his experience and astute leadership, the Committee of Ambassadors was able to accomplish many of its goals and further advance the critical work which commenced in 2011, on the future of this Organisation and its relations with the European Union (EU). I would also like to register my appreciation to Ambassador Diop, who has dedicated his time, insight and knowledge to ensure a successful baton exchange. I have been assured of his continued support and active collaboration as a Member of the Troika and the Committee of Ambassadors.
 
Excellencies, Colleagues,
 
We are meeting at a pivotal juncture in the life of the ACP and in a global environment that remains increasingly unpredictable, indeed challenging, not only for developing countries, but also for developed ones. It is recognized that there have been profound changes in and within the European Union (EU), our largest international partner. The EU of nine (9) Member States as we knew it in 1975 has expanded to its current membership of 28 States. The Union is confronted with the departure of one of its longstanding members – the United Kingdom (UK) - which has implications for the future relationship between the ACP and the new EU27. Needless to say, although the EU is facing its own internal and external challenges, we as the ACP are committed to advancing towards the new relationship that will emerge post-2020.
 
Closer home, we too have to confront our own realities. The ACP of 2018 is not the same as that of 1975 and cannot remain the same in the face of the ongoing developments within and around us, if it is to remain viable and deliver on the promise of social and economic advancement for our peoples. This acknowledgement is clearly outlined in the Waigini Communique on the Future Perspectives of the ACP Group of States, adopted by our Heads at their 8th Summit in Papua New Guinea in 2016.
 
Colleagues, as we stand together at this crossroads, we must remain united in our deliberations on how to confront our common and admittedly monumental challenges.It begs many questions: Can we acknowledge the promise and possibilities which exist in our countries, individually and collectively? Can we learn from the errors of the past and look to best practices in our efforts for the future? Shall we embrace the opportunities that present themselves by virtue of a new dawn in our relations with the EU? And shall we harness the abundance of talent, energy and creativity which lie within our citizens, especially in our large youth populations, as well as the vast natural resources with which we have been blessed, to pursue exchanges and collaborations between and among our regions?
 
I am fully confident that we have it in us to do so and indeed, we must. Here are some of the reasons for this:
 
At the recent Education Summit in Dakar, one of our renowned leaders of Africa charged us to reverse outflows from the continent which can more usefully be used to promote the education of masses of young people.
Within the Caribbean, we are contemplating how the mining industry can be engaged to support post-disaster reconstruction and recovery in our islands that are so vulnerable to adverse climate events.
The Pacific Islands have demonstrated how support through the ACP Cultures Plus Programme has been used to drive development of the creative industry in that region.
Those regional visions of what is possible, offer clear lessons in the value and potential of cooperation among us and with our partners. Let us therefore, expand and ‘supersize’ the post-2020 vision!
 
Jamaica is committed to leading our joint endeavours over the next six months, but will require your supportive presence and active participation. A collective effort is needed from the Committee of Ambassadors, the Secretariat and those at home in our regions, within their respective spheres of operation and mandates. Our achievements will be dependent on the commitment of each member of the team to the achievement of our common goals.
 
By September 2018, we expect to commence negotiations on a successor arrangement with the EU for post-2020. The European Commission (EC) has already outlined in the December 2017 Recommendation, its aspirations for the shape and nature of what it deems to be a modern arrangement, for which we are advised, there is general support among EU Member States.
 
Colleagues, we must therefore rapidly advance work on our own negotiating mandate. We have to demonstrate, with purpose and determination, the seriousness with which we are addressing our future, and the future relations within the EU partnership. We must ensure that the message we communicate to the EU, our peoples and the rest of the world, is one of unified strength; an ACP forged by the active pursuit of “Common Interests, Common Goals, Common Destiny!”
 
This therefore, represents the theme for Jamaica’s chairmanship, which I introduce to you today. I repeat: "Common Interests, Common Goals, Common Destiny."
 
Excellencies,
 
The Georgetown Agreement of 1975, the Sipopo Declaration of the 7th Summit of 2012 and the Waigini Communique of 2016 set out our “Common Interests, Common Goals and a Common Destiny”. We are united in our quest for good governance, the preservation of peace and security, social justice, entrepreneurship, building capacity in our private sectors, promotion of trade, and sustainable development. These are our Common Interests. We are united in the pursuit of improving the living standards of our peoples; the eradication of poverty; ensuring that the ACP Group is the leading transcontinental organisation; and to deepen the political dialogue with the EU. These are among our Common Goals. The preservation of our common interests and the achievement of goals represent a path towards our Common Destiny!
 
The Committee of Ambassadors, as the third highest organ of the ACP, is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the effective, strategic and well-devised implementation of the Group’s mandates. Much has been undertaken to implement the decisions of the 8th Summit of Heads of State and Government. However, in articulating our Common Interests, Common Goals, Common Destiny, we anticipate that the period leading up to the formal launch of the negotiations, will involve even more intense discussions, focussed presentations and very active engagement of all our key stakeholders at the national and regional levels. For Jamaica, and indeed the Committee of Ambassadors, the priorities and immediate tasks for the next six (6) months must be to ensure the following:
 
On the Post-Cotonou Negotiations:
 
Elaboration of the Core Guiding Principles for the post-Cotonou negotiations;
Engagement of the Central Negotiating Group (CNG) and the Technical Negotiating Teams (TNTs) to tasks entrusted to them;
Articulation and presentation of a solid draft Negotiating Mandate for adoption by the 107th Ministerial Council of the ACP, scheduled to begin on 27th May 2018 in Lomé, Togo. .
There are only seventy one (71) working days between today and then. However, we will have an opportunity to discuss the mechanism to achieve these in greater depth under the item on our agenda dedicated to the subject.
 
Concurrently, we must significantly advance the requisite administrative and structural review towards strengthening the Group. In this respect, we must focus our attention on:
 
In relation to the ACP We Want:
 
Revision of the Georgetown Agreement: which will provide an opportunity to update the Group’s objectives to take account of the changed contexts since its last review, including the imperatives created by the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda;
Further implementation of the mandates emanating from the 8th Summit of Heads of State and Government held in April/May 2016 on the Future of the ACP, particularly those related to the recommendations of the Report of the Eminent Persons Group.
Turning now to the Work Plan
 
In light of all the above, our proposed work plan over the next three months, will see us moving deliberately towards the completion of the Negotiating Strategy and the Review of the Georgetown Agreement in the following ways:
 
The completion of the composition of any outstanding groups, the administrative arrangements for commencement of work, to include the finalisation of their Terms of Reference and the adoption of a work schedule, by the end of February. Substantive work within each TNT and the CNG is to commence at the beginning of March, on the basis of draft inputs and guidance from the Secretariat.
Two meetings of the Committee of Ambassadors will be convened in February, March and April. In addition to each regular statutory meeting in the first half of the month, a second meeting will be held in each of those months, to facilitate a brainstorming session in February, the Georgetown Review in March and Post-Cotonou negotiations in April.
The meeting of the Committee of Ambassadors in early May will conclude the planning and the arrangements for the Council Meeting in Togo and should do this in such a manner as to inspire the interest and confidence of all our Ministers. The legitimacy of the outcome we seek requires maximum participation from our ministers.
Allowances will be made for inputs from regional organisations and other stakeholders to be included as the process unfolds.
It is essential that the work of the Sub-Committees and Working Groups complement and supports the work of the TNTs and the CNG.
You will also recall that we adopted a Roadmap at the last Committee Meeting, which has been further refined by the inclusion of the timelines I just mentioned.
 
Excellencies, Colleagues,
 
I thank the Secretary General and his team, for the guidance we have been receiving and for their early indications of support for my mission on behalf of the people of the ACP Group of States. As we look ahead to a new dispensation, we are conscious that The ACP We Want also requires The Secretariat We Want - a reinvigorated and fit-for-purpose institution. I want, on your behalf, to express appreciation to the Secretary General and his staff for their continued dedication and commitment to assisting us in delivering on the promises to our peoples. They often work tirelessly and behind the scenes to ensure the achievement of our goals and objectives, even as they know we will be asking much more of them in the period ahead and in the years to come. Many have spent decades of their professional lives in service to the ACP. In that regard, I pause to acknowledge their contribution, through the symbolic recognition of Mr. Justin Fortune, one of the English interpreters, who has served in excess of thirty (30) years and who I gather is to retire soon. Our work has been rendered more effective and efficient through his efforts at bridging the language divide, and for this we express our sincere gratitude.
 
Colleagues, it is up to us as the Committee of Ambassadors to make good on our obligations to carry out the tasks set for us, so that the best possible outcomes can be secured. I am conscious that as Heads of our respective Missions, we have multiple responsibilities, often outside of Brussels, and that the immediate needs of the ACP will require tremendous sacrifices from all of us. It is my sincere hope that the deliberations over the next six (6) months are focused, results-oriented and ultimately worthy of the efforts we are expending, in service to our countries and peoples.
 
Indeed, as we approach the last lap in this relay towards the finishing line of a new and effective partnership with the EU, it is my intention to work very closely with you to ensure that we are able to demonstrate concrete deliverables at the end of this tenure.
 
Thank you all!
 
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